Another Star On The Wall
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The Foundation buried another of my friends today.

He wasn’t the first. And, knowing how this line of work goes, I doubt he will be the last.

I first met him when he was giving an orientation to a new batch of recruits. Most of the folks in the audience were young enough they could have been my kids – heck, he was years younger than I. Reminded me of a Staff Sergeant who served under me back, oh, must have been fifteen or twenty years ago. Solid as a rock, seen everything, the sort of fellow you want watching your back. My friend told us he’d been a Foundation agent for over a decade, working mostly in retrieval. His eyes made me believe him: you get eyes like his from seeing the worst the world has to offer, walking into hell, spitting in the face of the devil, and walking back.

We worked together on a few occasions after that. Not too often, since I was working mostly in intel and operations planning. We’d have drinks and trade stories after hours, mostly. He forgave me for being a REMF once he learned about what I’d been through back in Ukraine. And in Kashmir. And in [REDACTED].

The service was subdued. Empty casket – no surprise, considering the size of the explosion. The sweep-and-clear team never found a body, just a twisted bit of metal that used to be his dog-tags. Or so they say. Honestly, I’m skeptical; my friend’s been working for the Foundation for so many years now and come home so many times I’m not going to believe he’s dead until the DNA matches. They apparently didn’t find any of that, either.

The service was in the site's north amphitheater. I slipped away afterwards to visit the Memorial Wall. The Wall is actually an entire room, duplicated at all the large Sites. On three walls there is a star carved for every member of the Foundation who has died in the line of duty. A small, leather-bound book sits on a stand before the wall, listing the fallen in chronological order. Most of the names are blank, identities remaining secret even in death.

The remaining wall has small inlaid bronze valor medals for every such award given posthumously. Most of these are Distinguished Crosses or Foundation Stars. I looked; my friend’s award had already been added.

Foundation Star

Awarded Posthumously on This Day 28 February 2012,

For Voluntary Acts of Courage Performed Under Hazardous Conditions,

And For Outstanding Achievements and Services Rendered With Distinction Under Conditions of Grave Risk.

He Gave His Life That His Team Could Escape.

As expected, there was no name. Understandable; everyone at the Foundation knew their names might never be chronicled. But in the quiet, dimly lit marble room, they were remembered.

We Secure. We Contain. We Protect.

And We Never Forget.

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